Taking a Sabbatical

If your email account is anything like mine, you probably get a half dozen pieces of snail mail, emails, texts or phone calls every day from companies telling you how much they appreciate you.

"Just for you, valued customer #74563!"

"Dear loyal customer, or current occupant."

And you know, because you're not brain dead, that it's all just another example of the high quality bovine excrement that marketing departments churn out daily.

Void Star doesn't really have a marketing department. That's one of my responsibilities. And I suck at it. So I don't have some fancy marketing plan or strategy engineered to try to retain your loyalty or interest while VSS goes dark for a little while.

All I can say, with utmost sincerity, is that I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

It wasn't long after I discovered RPGs that I fell in love with the idea of writing my own game and having others actually grow to care about it too. The first part is easy. Anyone can write a game. It may not be a good game, but anyone can throw together something that can entertain you and your friends for an evening. The magic is in making something lasting, that others not only care about, but talk about, and share with their friends.

You people made that happen for me. And it means the world. Pretty much anyone in this business will tell you that you don't do it for the money. The money sucks. You do it because you love it. It's a creative addiction, and the money (if you're lucky enough to make any) just helps you feed it.

But every now and then there comes a time when we need to take a step back and reevaluate. That's what I've found myself doing over the last few months. The last year or so was huge for Void Star. We launched Tact-Tiles, the Savage Worlds version of Nova Praxis, and Machinations.

For many game companies, that's not much. But for us, it was huge. And as awesome as it was, as much fun as it was, and as pleased I am with the results... it took a toll.

Like most game designers these days, I have a day job. Very few can do this full time and take care of a family. And a couple of months ago I got a new position at a new company that is, in many ways, a dream job. I can't get into specifics, but I've been given the opportunity to dive into the world of military training and simulation. And if you've read Nova Praxis, you're probably not surprised to hear that something like that would appeal to me. But unfortunately, it requires much more of my time and attention than my previous position did. And working on military computers means that I'm very limited in how much I can be active on social media or support VSS during the day.

Normally I could still manage the day job and VSS together. But this is hitting at a time when I'm also starting to experience a number of health issues. It's nothing major, but it's several things that are really adding up. And it makes committing my evenings and weekends to anything other than R&R pretty difficult.

So what does that mean? More specifically, what does it mean for VSS?

Void Star is my baby. It's not just a job, it's a passion. Nova Praxis in particular has been, for years, something that I can only rightfully call an obsession. Researching and writing for it has challenged and changed me in ways I never could have predicted.

So it's not going away. It can't. Closing up shop simply isn't an option.

But I've got to take some time off. I've got to step back and focus on getting settled into this new day job, a new routine, and taking care of my health. I need some time to make some much-needed adjustments, in both my work and personal life. And hopefully, with a little time, I'll be able to get back in the groove.

We've still got a lot of work to do.

A Brief Update

Hello everyone. I thought I'd take a moment to talk about what's going on here at Void Star.

Bye Bye Messageboards

To put it simply, it's a lot of effort to hit so many different social media sources on a regular basis. And I've been letting the messageboard slip.
I don't think that's fair to you guys. So, in an effort to be more efficient in terms of time, effort and attention, we will be shutting down these message boards as of the end of the month.

Please be sure you save any information posted here that you would like to keep.

As always, if you want to get in touch with me for questions about Nova Praxis, Strands of Fate, Tact-Tiles, or anything else, you can still hit me up through the following:

Google+ (my personal account, and where I am most active)
Google+ VSS Community
And I'm @Mechalus on Twitter

We've also got a Nova Praxis subedit over on Reddit. Check it out!

Nova Praxis Updates

Lot's going on. The Augmented version of the Savage Worlds Edition of the Nova Praxis setting book has been released and the response has been tremendous!

So what now? Well, we've got three products in the works:

Ghosts in Darkness: SWE

Ghosts in Darkness was a scenario originally published in Machinations. We are converting it to Savage Worlds. Most of the content is the same, but we're going to be replacing the original art with new art and/or new "blue box" bits. 

Hatchet Job

This is a new scenario written by Jonathan Killstring. It'll be released for both the Fate and Savage Worlds versions of Nova Praxis. The text is finalized. And now it gets in line behind GiD for layout and art.

Work Hazards

We've had this on one the back burner for a while now, but I'll be meeting with James Townsley tomorrow to discuss the project's status and see if we can get it back on track. Work Hazards focusses on introducing new antagonists to your Nova Praxis campaigns. And like all of our future products, it's for Fate and Savage Worlds.

Strands of Infinity

Strands of Infinity, the spiritual successor to Strands of Fate, is coming along nicely. The system has evolved to the point that we can start making characters. And it won't be much longer before it becomes playable!

Shortly after we hit that milestone, I plan to do an open beta test. So stay tuned for that!

Tact-Tiles Live Shipping

At long last, Tact-Tiles are now shipping "live" instead of for pre-order. If you place an order now, you can expect your tiles to ship within 7 working days.

We also got the Premium Cases and packing material for them in, and we expect them to start shipping early next week.

Tact-Tiles was by far our largest and most complex product launch to date. It has been extremely frustrating at times, facing delay after delay from suppliers, the ever-rising cost of shipping, etc.. 

But we finally got here! It has certainly been a learning experience; and I want to personally thank everyone for their patience and support!

I especially want to thank Steve and Kristan, who have been instrumental in managing the distribution and customer service side of things. Thank you! We couldn't have got here without you.


Tact-Tiles and Nova Praxis: SWE A-PDF Update


Our distribution team reports that all of the Expedited Kickstarter tiers have been shipped, and we're now starting to dig into the non-Expedited orders. So we're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the Kickstarter orders.

We're running low on tiles from the screen printer again, so that may put us a few days behind. But if things continue at this pace, we should be getting into the website orders in just a few weeks!

The Premium Case

I received a sample of the Premium case a few days ago, and it looks good. We placed the order for the rest, and they're scheduled to ship tomorrow to us tomorrow. Hopefully we'll be able to get those turned around pretty quickly.

Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition (Augmented PDF)

I can finally report some progress on this front. It's been slow going, but you can click on the preview image below to download an early sample. Just note that this sample has not been optimized yet, and doesn't include any of the actual functionality that the final version of the A-PDF will have.

The Tact-Tiles are landing. The Premium Box issues are (hopefully) resolved.

We have reports of Tact-Tiles landing in the hands of the Kickstarter backers! Frankly, the processing and shipping is going slower than we'd like, but we're shipping as fast as our printer can get them to us.

Website orders will start shipping after the Kickstarter orders, which will take another 2-3 weeks. 

We apologize for the delay. We'd really hoped to be able to get them all out by now, but a steady stream of delays from suppliers have cursed this product from the start. Speaking of which...

We finally have the first Premium Boxes on their way. Apparently, when you order 1-2 boxes, they use a water jet to cut the foam. But when you place a large order, they want to die cut the foam. The problem is, our design can't be die cut. So we had a lot of back-and-forth trying to figure out how to resolve this.

The last word I got was "We figured it out and your first order is on the way." Now we just hope the "fix" is a good one.

For a more detailed account of where we are in shipping, I recommend you keep an eye on the Kickstarter comments section, even if you weren't a Kickstarter backer.

So what's going on?

We've been very busy here at VSS over the last few months, so I thought it was past due time to give you guys a consolidated update.

Tact-Tiles - 12.png


After a very frustrating series of delays, we're scheduled to pick up the first set of Tact-Tiles from our screen printer on Tuesday. We may be able to get some shipments out by the end of the week, but I expect next weekend to primarily consist of a long hours of box packing and stacking.

Those who backed an "expedited" tier on the Kickstarter will have their shipments prioritized. And if possible, we're going to try to process the retailer orders at the same time. After that will be the other Kickstarter backers, and finally, the website pre-orders.

I'd expect the Premium Boxes to arrive within 1-2 weeks of your tiles.

This has been a very long process for all involved, and we really appreciate everyone's patience. We're going to do our best to get you your Tact-Tiles as fast as possible.

Nova Praxis (Fate and Savage Worlds)

Print copies of Machinations, the GM's Companion for the Fate version of Nova Praxis, will be shipping out to Kickstarter backers on Monday.

This weekend I'm planning to spend some more time working on the Augmented version of the Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition PDF. I don't want to speculate on a release date yet, but the Augmented PDF for the Fate version became a platinum best seller on DTRPG, and I'm looking forward to getting one out for the SW version.

Very soon we will also begin working on the Savage Worlds version of Ghosts in Darkness. Ghosts is a pre-written scenario originally released in Machinations.

We've also began work on Work Hazards, a book designed to cover dangerous alien creatures, drones, post-human aberrations, and antagonistic NPCs. As with all future NP releases, Work Hazards will be available for both the Fate and SW versions of Nova Praxis.

We're also working on a fiction anthology, but that's still a ways off.

What's what, and where can I get it?

Due to a shift in capabilities, direction and technologies, VSS' products are available from a number of different sources. I thought it might be time to post a consolidated overview of our products and where you can get them.


The modular dry and wet-erase play surface. Tact-Tiles are available for order on the VSS Web Store, as well as a carrying case, and premium carrying case. You can learn more about Tact-Tiles by visiting it's Kickstarter page.

Strands of Fate

Strands of Fate was our first product, born out of a desire for a complete core book for the Fate system. Since that time, Evil Hat has released Fate Core, but Strands of Fate still stands on its own as VSS' take on the Fate system.

Strands of Power is a supplement for Strands of Fate that greatly expands upon SoF's Advantages and Powers system.

Where to get Strands of Fate:

PDF - VSS Web Store and DrivethruRPG

Hardcover Print - VSS Web Store and Lulu

Softcover Print - VSS Web Store and Lulu

Where to get Strands of Power:

PDF - VSS Web Store and DrivethruRPG

Hardcover Print - VSS Web Store and Lulu

Softcover Print - VSS Web Store and Lulu

Nova Praxis

Nova Praxis is a sci-fi setting originally released for Fate. More specifically, it was released as a self-contained, stand alone, game built on a version of Fate best described as a hybrid of Strands of Fate and Evil Hat's Fate Core. Nova Praxis has been a huge success for us. The Fate version also has a GM's companion supplement called Machinations.

Machinations contains a greatly expanded look at the shadowy secrets of the Nova Praxis setting, as well as dozens of plot hooks, four ready-made campaign outlines, and a complete pre-written scenario called Ghosts in Darkness.

Nova Praxis was later released for Savage Worlds as well. The SW version requires the Savage Worlds core book from Pinnacle Entertainment, and includes all the setting information from both the original Fate version, and Machinations. The Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion is not required to play Nova Praxis: SWE, but is occasionally referenced and highly recommended.

Going forward we plan to release products for both the Fate and SW versions of Nova Praxis.

So far we have released the following Nova Praxis products:

Where to get Nova Praxis (Fate): 

Print - VSS Web Store, Amazon and Indie Press Revolution

PDF - VSS Web Store and DrivethruRPG

Augmented PDF - VSS Web Store and DrivethruRPG

Nova Praxis GM Screen Inserts PDF - VSS Web Store and DrivethruRPG

Machinations (Fate)

Print & PDF - DrivethruRPG

Where to get Nova Praxis (Savage Worlds Edition): 

Print (Hardcover and Softcover) & PDF - DrivethruRPG

Nova Praxis SWE Custom Action Deck

Print & PDF - DrivethruRPG

Nova Praxis SWE GM Screen Inserts PDF - DrivethruRPG

Cost Saving Bundles

Nova Praxis Print + Basic PDF + Augmented PDF - VSS Web Store

Nova Praxis (Fate) + Strands of Fate + Strands of Power PDF Bundle - VSS Web Store

Strands of Fate + Strands of Power PDF Bundle - VSS Web Store

Nova Praxis (Fate) + GM Screen Inserts + Machinations PDF Bundle - DrivethruRPG

Nova Praxis (Fate) + Nova Praxis Augmented PDF (Fate) + GM Screen Inserts + Machinations PDF Bundle - DrivethruRPG




Machinations and Nova Praxis: SWE Print Release!

Better late than never! I came home this evening to find that Jolly Ol' St. Nick had finally got around to dropping off a few presents under a rather withered and dusty Void Star-topped tree. :)

It's been a long time coming, but we're very proud to finally release the print versions of...

Machinations: The Nova Praxis GM's Companion [Fate]

Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition

The Nova Praxis: SWE Action Deck

All of these books are available exclusivly via print-on-demand through DrivethruRPG.

Oh, and we're also ready to start shipping Tact-Tiles next week! We're looking at a bit of a delay on the Premium Cases though, as we made a last minute design tweak.

PDF Updates for Nova Praxis: SWE, Machinations and the Nova Praxis: SWE GM Screen

We have updated the PDF files for Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition and Machinations to reflect the new layout and the most recent errata. In some cases the changes were pretty significant, so I HIGHLY recommend you take the time to download the update.

If you got these PDFs through DrivethruRPG, you should have gotten a notice. If you didn't, you can still download the latest PDFs by logging into DTRPG and going to "My Library".

If you got these PDFs directly from me, you can contact me at mike@voidstarstudios.com for the update.

We also updated the Nova Praxis: SWE GM Screen to reflect the changes to the "Abstract Ammo and Overheating" rules.

Tact-Tiles and Printed Books

Tact-Tiles Update

We've officially started production of Tact-Tiles! Unfortunately, we're having to endure a long lead time on some of the packaging materials, but the first tiles look great. We'd been looking for a more durable ink, and I'm happy to report that we found one.

We may be able to push out a few orders soon, but we anticipate that most orders will begin shipping around the second week in January.

Nova Praxis: SWE and Machinations in Print

If you've been following me on Google+ or Facebook, you know that we've really been struggling to get these books in print. First is was an error in layout, and then ANOTHER error in layout, and then a problem getting cover templates from the printer.

But the good news is that we got the corrections made and good cover templates in. Because of the Holidays, I don't expect to get source file approvals back from the printer before the end of the first week in January, but as soon as we do, we'll get proofs on order. And if they look good (and they should!), we'll be ready to accept orders for the print versions of Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition and Machinations the GM companion book for the Fate version of NP. 

But hey, if you don't want to wait on the print version, don't forget that you can get them in PDF now!

Also, when the print version of NP:SWE becomes available, we'll also be releasing the custom Nova Praxis Action Deck for Savage Worlds!

Random Thoughts on the Last 6 Months of Game Development

As many of you know, in addition to writing the vast majority of the content, I also do art direction and layout on Void Star's books. And to be honest, the last six months has been a challenge like few I've ever faced.

Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition and Machinations (The GM Companion for the Fate version of NP) were developed, for the most part, in parallel. That wasn't my original intent, but that's how the pieces fell into place.

Both of these projects came with a ton of new experiences and  a few harsh lessons learned. 

Some find it hard to believe, but Strands of FateStrands of Power,  the Fate version of Nova Praxis, and the first draft of Machinations were written and laid out in frickin Microsoft Word. Why would that be hard to believe? Because it's incredibly dumb.

Word is fine for writing. It's actually pretty great for it. But using it for layout is like using a shovel to dig a swimming pool. It'll get the job done if that's all you have, but you're going to expend a lot of blood, sweat and tears before the job is done.

Machinations was mostly written, and about 75% of the way through the layout processes (in Word), when events transpired that forced me to switch gears and focus most of my efforts on NP:SWE.

So... I knew going into NP:SWE that I wanted to learn Adobe InDesign. And as I became more familiar with it, it quickly became apparent that I needed to convert everything I'd done on Machinations over to ID as well. There is a bit of a learning curve, and InDesign can be expensive, but its worth every penny and every second of every tutorial you have to fumble through. When used correctly, InDesign can be a very powerful tool. The trick is learning to use it correctly.

And then at some point, along with learning InDesign, I started working with new artists and working with Savage Mojo (highly recommended!) to get new art in for both books. Art direction doesn't seem that hard on the surface, but it's no picnic, especially if you've never done much of it in the past, and especially if you are also in the middle of writing, editing, and layout using a highly complex new program you're still trying to learn. So maybe it isn't so much hard as stressful, especially when you're trying to do it under less than ideal circumstances.

And by "less than ideal circumstances", I mean while working 50hr weeks at the day job, and also managing the Kickstarter, R&D and production of Tact-Tiles. For a few months I was going to bed at midnight and getting up at 4 AM to try to get stuff done for Void Star before heading off to work. Those were some dark days fueled by little more than Provigil and caffeine.

Anyway, we're finally wrapping up NP:SWE and Machinations. I'd never used DrivethruRPG for print on demand before, so that came with its own set of lessons to be learned. But I finally got the proofs for Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition on order last night.

I can't wait to see how it looks in print!

I expedited the shipping, so hopefully I'll get them in next week. And with any luck, they'll look good on the first try.
As soon as NP:SWE is approved, it'll go up for sale (along with the initiative cards) and Machinations will be submitted for approval.

General Update

Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition

We had an issue with the files I submitted for print. It took a bit, but I got everything corrected and ready to resubmit to DrivethruRPG. Unfortunately, DTRPG hasn't officially rejected the original files in their system yet, so I can't upload new ones. So we're in limbo until I can get someone at DTRPG to flip the switch. As soon as that's done, hopefully it won't be long before they're approved and I can get proofs.

On a related note, I got the proofs in for the cards, and they look great! They will become available when the print versions of the book does.


Machinations is sitting in the same boat as NP:SWE. The printed book is the same format, so the layout changes that needed to be made to NP:SWE also had to be made to Machinations. I'm almost done with it, but hit a delay due to sickness in the family.

I hope to have it ready to submit as soon as we get approval on NP:SWE.


We have received all of the tiles from the injection molding company, and half of them have been delivered to our silk-screener to get the grids marked on them. So now we're waiting on them to get started. If all goes well, we should be shipping tiles out by mid-December!


Nova Praxis (Fate) Vehicles and NPC Community Project

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If you are a fan of the Fate version of Nova Praxis, you might want to check this out. The Savage Worlds version contained several write-ups for new vehicles and NPC antagonists. I want to make these available for the Fate version.

Hoever, since I haven't had the time to devote to the project, I've decided to turn it over to the community. 

There is now a thread on our messageboard where you can download the vehicles and antagonists from the Savage Worlds version. This allows Fate fans to contribute without needing to buy the SW version. 

International Shipping now Available

International Shipping is now an option though our web store

As previously mentioned, international shipping is in many cases prohibitively expensive (see here). We understand that, and wish there were better solutions available. We do not have an international distributer at this time, meaning that all orders must ship from the United States.

In truth, we are only offering international shipping as an option to those willing to pay the premium.

So why not team with an international distributer? It boils down to simple economics. We have a very slim profit margin on our products (especially Tact-Tiles). So once you factor in the cost of overseas freight, and the distributer's cut, we'd be lucky to make any money at all. And it's very difficult to justify the effort required to set all that up, and maintain it, virtually for free.

This would be a far more viable option if we manufactured our products in China, but we simply aren't willing to do that. In addition to a general dislike of outsourcing labor, previous experience with Chinese (and other foreign) manufacturers has taught me that you get what you pay for.

You can't expect a quality product for cheap.

What's Going On?


I'm happy to report that we have entered production and are still on track to begin shipping in December. I can't promise that we'll get them all out the door by the end of the year, but that's our intent.

Second, we have a premium case, and a price point! Check it out!

We still have some concerns to work out in regards to international shipping, so there will be a slight delay on that front. But I'm hoping to get that worked out, for Tact-Tiles and the case, this weekend. Fair warning though, it's going to be expensive.

Some people have asked whether or not we'll be shipping their tiles in the premium cases. Unfortunately, the answer is no, they'll be shipped separately due to timing on the arrival of the cases, our storage capabilities, and other logistical kinks I won't bore you with.

Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition / Machinations in Print

I spent the weekend prepping Nova Praxis: Savage Worlds Edition for print. Ugh. What a pain. DTRPG/Lightning Source has a lot of specific requirements that I, because I'm stupid, neglected to set up correctly the first time.

Oh well, live and learn. I got the interior done and now just need to finish up the covers. Next up: Machinations.

Strands of Fate and Strands of Power

They are both now available in print from our webstore.

Status Updates

Tact-Tiles News

For cost reasons, we had to seek out a new injection mold company. We found them, and they intend to get started early next week! That means we are still on track for a December delivery.

We also go the first sample Premium Case in!

I'm pretty satisfied with it, but we're going to make some design tweaks. It doesn't need the finger holes in the tiles section. So I'm going to remove those, which will free up more space for the markers/eraser/dice section.

The Premium case will be available here on the website. However, we don't know the exact price yet, as we are still in negotiations with the supplier.

Nova Praxis: SWE News

We're still in the errata collection phase before going into printing. So if you find any errors, you can report them here.

This week I will begin work on the custom Nova Praxis Action Deck and the GM Screen PDF. The week after I'll begin on the Augmented PDF!

Also, if you like NP:SWE, please take a moment to drop us a review.

Machinations News

Like NP:SWE, we're still in the errata collection stage for Machinations. But we will be ordering print samples soon.

Please report errors found in Machinations here.

And as with NP:SWE, if you like Machinations, we'd appreciate it if you left us a review!